Fall On The Blue Ridge Parkway

Fog and fall colors at the Wolf Mountain Overlook at MP 424.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I love to visit there, but hate dealing with the crowds that flock there, especially in fall when the colors are happening.  Such was the case this week, when Kathy & I decided to head to the high country for a few days to check out the fall colors.

Like all the National Parks, the Blue Ridge Parkway, as the most-visited National Park in the country, has been overrun by tourists seeking an outdoor experience.  I’ll be glad when many of them head back to the office, although there appears to be a large number of retired folks as well.  Drivers on the Parkway range from the Floridian driving white-knucked around the winding corners at 30 MPH to the motorcycle riders trying to make the Parkway their personal Lime Rock Park.  Add in those of us just trying to drive comfortably and enjoy the scenery and it can be a frustrating mix.

Steestachee Bald Overlook at MP 438.9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

We left home on Wednesday morning with the goal of driving the Parkway from Blowing Rock to Mount Pisgah before heading to Waynesville for a couple of nights.  We have friends who own a motel there, and I have a cousin who lives nearby who we don’t get to see often enough.  Seeing both of them was long overdue.

Wednesday was a Chamber of Commerce Blue Sky Day on the Parkway.  The leaves in the Grandfather Mountain area were just about at their peak.  We stopped at an overlook and had lunch before continuing south toward our destination.

I didn’t take a single photograph all day.

Steestachee Bald Overlook at MP 438.9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Between having a case of “Get-There-Itis” * and all the people crowding into any overlook with a view, my heart just wasn’t in it.  It was nice to see, but I rationalized that the mid-day light wasn’t ideal for good photographs and decided that any photograph I made would be no better than a cell phone photo, just taken with a nice camera.

Fog at the Richland Balsam Overlook at MP 431.4. At 6053 feet, the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway

On Thursday, we headed back to the Parkway with the express intention of making photographs.  As we headed higher, it became clear that fog would be our companion for the day.  That suited me just fine, because fog means interesting photography and…fewer people!  The fog and the fall color varied greatly by elevation, and we drove in and out of the fog for several hours.  Some places were pretty clear, while others – like Richland Balsam, the highest point on the Parkway at 6053 feet, were totally in the soup.  But for the first time in a long time, I was able to get a photograph of the sign without someone’s car or motorcycle parked in front of it! 😉

Fog at the Richland Balsam Overlook at MP 431.4. At 6053 feet, the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway

On Friday, we headed toward home by a different route than we usually take.  I got a few photographs from the drive home that I’ll share in another post.  We may try to head back up to the Parkway early next week, weather permitting.  If so, hopefully I can contain my “affliction” and make a few nice photos!

Fall colors in the Black Balsam area of the Blue Ridge Parkway near MP 420

*Get-There-Itis (my definition): (a) in photography, a condition where one is so focused on the final destination that it prevents stopping to take pictures; (b) in aviation, often referred to as exercising poor judgement, resulting in a decision to fly despite adverse conditions, often with sub-optimal results.

2 thoughts on “Fall On The Blue Ridge Parkway”

  1. Yep, soupy weather conditions. Back in 2003 I spent a few days of October in the Smoky Mountains and loved it. Want to go back someday. Yes, on the crowded situations in almost every national park. I have friends who had friends from out of state spend a weekend and wanted to seem Rocky Mountain National Park. They had to make several reservations to get them all in at the same time.

    1. It’s a real conundrum. The parks are popular but the crowds make enjoyment difficult. Most people are respectful but not all are, and the sheer numbers of people contribute to the deterioration of facilities, trails, etc. Reservation systems help but they are easier to institute in some places more than others. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a prime example since there is no fee. Raising fees doesn’t have a huge impact because (a) people will pay anyway, and (b) people like us with lifetime passes don’t contribute anything beyond taxes.

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